Ex­hi­bi­tion blurs paint­ing and sculp­ture

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

The ti­tle of Hang Chun­hui’s on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion in Beijing, Am­bi­gu­ity, is in­spired by a verse from the 11th cen­tury Yuefu Shiji, or the po­etry col­lec­tion of the mu­sic bu­reau. The verse reads: “Lo­tus flow­ers dis­ap­pear in mist and dew, only the leaves are am­bigu­ously vis­i­ble.”

The 41-year-old artist says the line in­di­cates a tra­di­tional Chi­nese way of art ap­pre­ci­a­tion that mys­ti­cism is beauty.

He says it works with his re­cent ex­plo­ration of cre­at­ing works that blur the bound­ary be­tween paint­ing and sculp­ture.

Hang is known as an ink artist. Most of his pre­vi­ous paint­ings fea­ture a clas­sic style in­volv­ing the gongbi tech­nique.

But since 2015, the Bei­jing­based artist has turned ex­per­i­men­tal, pro­duc­ing works that com­bine ink paint­ing and sculp­ture.

His 30 cre­ations now on show at the Asia Art Cen­ter, in the city’s 798 art district, demon­strate his skills.

“When peo­ple look at the works, they are likely to be de­ceived,” says Hang.

For ex­am­ple, when one stands in front of Warm No 2, the per­son feels that it de­picts a piece of yel­low cloth with folds and wrin­kles.

But if he walks to any side he re­al­izes that he was mis­led: Hang doesn’t paint the folds or wrin­kles. They are formed by the wooden board that is pasted un­der the paint­ing.

Hang uses the same “vis­ual trick” in an­other work, Daily Se­ries — White Desk­top.

In this work, the view­ers first think that the four edges are painted in gray. But when they go closer they find the gray ar­eas are the frame’s shad­ows, which are cast by lights care­fully in­stalled on the ceil­ing and an­gled.

Hang’s ex­per­i­ments are grounded in an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary aca­demic back­ground.

He stud­ied sculp­ture for his bach­e­lor’s de­gree. He re­ceived a master’s de­gree in vis­ual com­mu­ni­ca­tion and a doc­tor­ate de­gree in tra­di­tional inkbrush paint­ing.

Hang says his works at­tempt to smudge the line be­tween paint­ing and sculp­ture, tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary ap­proaches to ink art and ab­stract and rep­re­sen­ta­tive forms.

“I hope that my iden­tity as an ink artist is for­got­ten by the au­di­ence af­ter they tour the ex­hi­bi­tion.”

While he says he no longer works in the realm of tra­di­tional ink art, he adds that this ap­proach does not in­tend to dis­pel the Asian fla­vor of his cre­ations.

“As a Chi­nese artist one can­not es­cape it.

“Be­sides, I be­lieve that re­tain­ing the Asian taste is how ink art car­ries on and en­riches the pre­sen­ta­tion of a sculp­ture.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion also fea­tures one of Hang’s lat­est cre­ations that he wishes to de­velop into a new se­ries.

In the work, he paints against a gray back­ground Braille al­pha­bets that say: “If you can see, you don’t need this pas­sage.” It is also the work’s ti­tle. He says the work ad­dresses the dif­fer­ences be­tween vi­sion and hear­ing and the cul­tural gaps that are hard to nar­row.

He also in­vites peo­ple to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­i­ties of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Desk­top and­White

“When I painted the work, I saw a so­phis­ti­cated side of my­self — which ap­peared when I be­came more skill­ful with the gongbi style.

“I felt enor­mously free and re­ju­ve­nated.”

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

War­mNo2 is show­ing at Hang’s ex­hi­bi­tion.

WhiteMo­saics is his main work on show.

Hang Chun­hui’s art­works fol­low a Chi­nese tech­nique.

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